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PLUNKETT AND MACLEANE

SYNOPSIS:
When Plunkett (Robert Carlyle), an 18th century highwayman and Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller), a penniless aristocrat are thrown together by chance in Newgate prison, both see an opportunity. They buy their way out of jail and set about robbing wealthy nobles, using Macleane’s connections to pinpoint the targets and Plunkett’s skill to carry out the robberies. When they hold up Lord Chief Justice Gibson (Michael Gambon) and his niece, Lady Rebecca (Liv Tyler), the pair shoot to instant notoriety. Dubbed the Gentleman Highwayman, Macleane finds himself attracted to Rebecca. While Plunkett only wishes to steal enough money to get him to the New World, Macleane’s need for money escalates. Meanwhile, efforts to capture the pair are put in the hands of Chance (Ken Stott), a cruel and ruthless man who’ll stop at nothing to see them hanged.

"Now here’s something a bit different! An 18th century swashbuckler directed with a music video sensibility. Jake Scott (yes, he’s Ridley’s son) has taken a staple film story and turned it into something which is at times fresh and exhilarating. At other times, it falls completely flat; but you can’t help but admire him for his audacity. While the idea of a costume drama with a hip-hop beat may not appeal to all, it serves to mark a young filmmaker not afraid to try something new. If you were enthralled by the ballroom scenes in Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love, go see this for a unique take on this type of scene. The film’s main difficulty is the basic story, which doesn’t even attempt to refine the swashbuckler genre. The result is a film displaying flashes of directorial brilliance built on a story that’s about as original as an Ugly Dave Gray joke. There’s certainly plenty of action, a neat love interest and some fine performances, particularly from Jonny Lee Miller as the dashing Macleane and Ken Stott as his vile but persistent adversary. Robert Carlyle is good but strangely subdued as Plunkett and Liv Tyler tries hard to do a Gwyneth Paltrow as Rebecca. Although not without its flaws, Plunkett & Macleane is a rousing and occasionally inspired film from an obviously talented new director."
David Edwards

"The Wild West had Butch and Sundance, and eighteenth century London had Plunkett and Macleane. This is Britain's version of Western mythology, a period film given a decidedly contemporary twist, in this visually audacious and largely exhilarating adventure yarn. Period films once had a staidness about them, but with the recent successes of Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love, audiences are ready to embrace the dreaded costume yarn if an attempt is made to communicate with a broad audience seeking contemporary entertainment. Plunkett & Macleane is a strange hybrid of period conventions and an MTV style of heavy visuals and a modern soundtrack. Far more so than recent costume dramas, this is a modern film with very contemporary dialogue, that happens to be set in the eighteenth century. It's a bold piece of cinema, one that takes two antiheroes and turns them into lovable rogues, battling a socially divided British society, one as amoral as it was hypocritical. The success of this film is that its two lead characters, both splendidly played by Robert Carlisle Jonny Lee Miller respectively, satirise the social distinctions that continued to polarise British society through to this century, and the film has fun in lampooning upper-class morality with a deft intelligence. It's beautifully done, yet is not by any means self-parody. Combined with Jake Scott's very modern sense of storytelling, Plunkett & Macleane is part satire and part adventure, treated with greater intensity in its use of violence and depiction of 18th century London. Stunningly visual, featuring a collage of wonderfully distinctive images, Plunkett & Macleane is a highly individual and compelling piece of entertainment, an action film with horses and pistols, villains that are perfectly played, and the luminous Liv Tyler to give the film added class. The music is a bit jarring at times, but is curiously evocative, and the film enhances the buddy genre with style, wit and panache. Plunkett & Macleane is an entertaining and original film, of which there are few."
Paul Fischer

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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

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See Paul Fischer's interview with director
JAKE SCOTT

PLUNKETT AND MACLEANE (MA)
(UK)

CAST: Jonny Lee Miller, Iain Robertson, Robert Carlyle, Ken Stott, Tommy Flanagan, Stephen Walters, James Thornton

DIRECTOR: Jake Scott

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Rupert Harvey

SCRIPT: Peter Barnes, Charles McKeown

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson

EDITOR: Oral Norrie Ottley

MUSIC: Craig Armstrong

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Norris Spencer

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: PolyGram

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: May 20, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: Sept 8, 1999 (Rental)
(Sell-thru: March 29, 2000)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

RRP: $19.95







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